I know this is not my typical 3d carving I normally post, but I thought it might be helpful in some way to some one. Many of us do not own a big fancy 4' x 8' CNC machine that we cut a full sheet of plywood on or long lumber on. Some people may only have a 24" x 24" machining area to cut on. That doesn't mean that you are limited to that 24" in both directions. You have the option of feeding your material through, typically the y axis for longer material.
- Machine Type:
- CNC Router
- Vectric V-carve Pro, bCNC, Fusion 360
- Machine Time:
- 5-6 hours
- Bit or Laser Size:
- 1/4" & 1/8" downcut 2 flute end mill bits.
- Feeds & Speeds:
- 100 IPM and 80 IPM
- 2"x8"x8' pine board. Duraliner spray on bed liner.
I use Vectric software which has a neat function or feature called Tile Toolpaths in the toolpath operations menu. It allows you to use longer material than your machine's cutting bed. Vectric has multiple videos on Youtube, that can explain the process much better than I could hope to do here.
It basically breaks your toolpaths into as many sections as you choose to have. If you only have a machining are of 24" and you want to carve a piece 70 inches long, as long as the width of the material fits into your machines size capabilities, it will work. You can select 20" long tiles, which will break up the toolpaths to accommodate that request. It will break it into 3, 20" sections and a 10" section.
It will cut the first 20" section, then you slide the material 20" back to your zero point and cut the second 20" section. Repeat until you reach the end of your project, sliding your material down to zero after each toolpath runs. You'll probably want to screw some kind of guides to keep your material parallel with your machines rails.
Another tip would be to jog your machine up to the 20" mark, drop your Z down and make a reference mark, so you know where your zero point is for accuracy reasons. After you cut your first 20" section, you just slide the material down until your tool bit lines up with the reference mark you made, and that should be zero for the next 20" pass, and so on.
Make sure if you set up cuts with different tooling to Run ALL Toolpaths Before moving on to the next tile. You wouldn't want to come back later to the previous tiles to cut a missed toolpath, although I suppose you could if needed.
Using this process, I made a set of custom running boards for my wife's truck after she damaged one of them. Instead of paying $500 for replacement factory ones, I spent about $35 for 2 pieces of lumber from Home Depot, and 2 cans of spray on bedliner from the auto parts store.
I designed a running board model using Fusion 360 free software, but instead of cutting the 3d shapes of the rounded edges, I decided to just use a hand planer and rounded the edges that way to save many hours of machine time.
Hope this helps you guys and gals out.